Can Hydrocodone Cause Headaches?
Hydrocodone is a prescription opioid pain medication, so it might seem counterintuitive to think that it can actually cause more pain, but in certain circumstances, it can.
One question people often have is can hydrocodone cause headaches, and this topic is covered below, as well as information about hydrocodone headaches during withdrawal.
Hydrocodone is a generic opioid pain medicine available only by prescription in the U.S. It’s intended to be prescribed to patients with moderate to severe pain, and it’s potent and also very addictive, which is why it’s a controlled substance. Hydrocodone is available in brand name formulations that are single-ingredient, but it’s also included in many combination medications.
Hydrocodone is often combined with substances like acetaminophen to increase its effectiveness, as well as ibuprofen.
It’s believed that hydrocodone and other prescription narcotics work by attaching to certain opioid receptors in the central nervous system, where they change how you sense pain. As a result of their effects on the CNS, they also can cause feelings of euphoria, which is why they’re so often abused recreationally.
Along with being very addictive, hydrocodone is also a drug to which people can relatively quickly develop a tolerance. A physical tolerance refers to a scenario where you’ve used the drug for a period of time to the point that your body has become dependent on it. Once this happens, and you try to stop using it suddenly, you have withdrawal symptoms which can range from mild to severe.
Pain from a migraine is viewed more as a chronic condition in many cases because most people that suffer from migraines have them on a recurring basis. There are also other symptoms that accompany migraines aside from just head pain including nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.
It’s been discovered that opioids like hydrocodone are not an ideal choice to treat migraines for a number of reasons.
First, opioids can make certain symptoms such as nausea and vomiting worse.
Also, opioids raise the pain threshold of the user, but they don’t actually treat the pain itself. When the effects of the hydrocodone or the other opioid wear off, the user will likely find that they are more sensitive to pain than they were before. This is because of something called narcotic-induced hypersensitivity. This condition can occur in people sometimes after only taking one dose of an opioid like hydrocodone. Then, this problem can become worse the more you take opioids, so what you’re experiencing are rebound headaches resulting from the use of opioids.
If you try to treat your migraines with narcotics, you will also need higher and higher doses each time to get any relief, because you build a tolerance to them so quickly.
Can hydrocodone cause headaches? Regarding rebound headaches, the answer is yes it can.
If you’re dependent on hydrocodone and you stop taking it, as was touched on above, you’re going to go through withdrawal.
One of the primary symptoms of withdrawal from any opioid including hydrocodone is a severe headache.
There are multiple specific types of headaches associated with withdrawal from opioids.
Some examples include tension headaches which tend to be related to the emotional and psychological symptoms of withdrawal from opioids, as well as migraines. Migraines are associated with a lack of dopamine production. You can also get a headache from dehydration that occurs because of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea during opioid withdrawal, and having high blood pressure during this time can also cause headaches.
There are different options available to people who are worried about a hydrocodone headache during withdrawal. Some are natural remedies such as aromatherapy or meditation, while other options might be available to you if you go through a medically-supervised detox program.
First, if it or any narcotic is used to treat migraines it can make the accompanying symptoms worse, and it can also cause rebound headaches that can be worse than the original headache when it wears off. This is why opioids are not the recommended course of treatment for chronic migraines.
During withdrawal, hydrocodone can also cause headaches as one of the symptoms, and the type of headache can range from tension headaches to headaches related to psychological symptoms and stress.
Have more questions about Hydrocodone abuse?Read the most frequently asked questions
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